The link between the environment and climate targets and the pandemic was the focus of the interview of Ioli Christopoulou and Nikos Mantzaris granted to journalist Filis Kaitatzis from the newspaper Paraskinio.
Linking the pandemic with the evolving ecological and environmental crisis, they emphasized that environmental issues cannot and should not be considered as luxury. The European Green Deal reflects clearly the directions that should be followed and the targets that all parties must adhere to in the upcoming years. More ambitious goals are needed in order to make our economies and societies more resilient to extreme health and climatic conditions.
In this regard they shared their thoughts on the environmental bill of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and presented some of the key comments that the Green Tank submitted to the public consultation. They insisted that the environmental licensing procedure is an important tool for environmental protection that should be strengthened and not considered as a time-consuming obstacle to development.
With respect to protected areas, which is also a key component of the new bill, they noted that when appropriate designation and management measures are in place, then protected areas can not only protect the unique Greek biodiversity, nature and landscape but also promote local sustainable development opportunities..
In the interview they also noted that the decision to phase out lignite in Greece is a historic decision. They emphasized that lignite must not be substituted by fossilgas, rather by renewable energy sources and energy storage systems, such as pump-hydro storage and the transformation of lignite stations into thermal-storage systems.
In this context they also noted that while Renewable Energy Sources (RES) will be of key-importance for the transition to the post lignite era, their development must take into account the biodiversity targets and the legal requirements for nature conservation. The expected revised spatial planning for the RES must, therefore, include mapping of the wind potential, the bearing capacity of each area and sensitivity maps for endangered bird and bat species.
The overall message conveyed in this interview is that even during a period of crisis, opportunities arise for ambitious environment and climate targets.
Τhe whole interview was published (in Greek) in the newspaper Paraskinio in an article titled ‘Pandemics and environment degradation go together’ on 25.04.2020.
You can access the full text of the interview here.